by Drew Bourn
I first met Randy a little over 20 years ago, and in the last 7 years or so, we have become very good friends. Both of us were active in athletics as kids and adults, and this was immediate common ground for conversations. Later, we started going to Patriot games together and Randy has come to my school (I teach PE and Health) a couple of times to talk to my students. When Randy told me about starting up 2020 Vision Quest a few years back, I thought it was a great idea. He is always one to take on challenges, and this was a big one.
Randy’s enthusiasm was tangible from the beginning, and I very much wanted to be involved, so I signed up for the Mount Pierce hike last year.
Not being a huge fan of camping, a day hike like this was perfect for me. I knew a few others in the group that day, and while it was a long hike, it was a great trip. It was my first time hiking in the Whites, and it was just a wonderful experience. I looked forward to doing at least one hike every year with 2020 Vision Quest.
Little did I know that Randy had bigger plans. This year, he asked me to lead to the Mount Waumbek hike. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was the right person. After all, my first (and only) hike in the Whites was the previous year. Randy can be persuasive, however. He pointed out that I help lead 50+ students up Mount Monadnock in Jaffery, NH each year. Of course, this was also going to be a one-day event as well, making prep a little simpler. Finally, Mount Waumbek is one of the smallest 4,000-foot peaks at 4,006 feet, making the hike an “easier” climb. How could I not say yes?
There really is no such thing as an “easier” or “simpler” hike. Each trip into the mountains and woods has unique difficulties and areas for concern. In leading, I am taking on the responsibility of not only myself, but also the whole group of 10 (11 with the Mighty Quinn). This time I will only know Randy, Tracy, and Quinn. However, Chris Garby, an experienced hiker, is co-leading the hike with me. I’m sure his knowledge and experience will be very useful during the trip. The rest of the group is not strangers so much as friends I just haven’t met yet. In addition, sharing a beautiful trip into the Whites is a great way to get to know others.
If I have learned anything from Randy over the course of our friendship, it is that all challenges, big and small, should be met with a positive attitude and a willing work ethic. No matter what the challenge is, taking it on leads to a better sense of self and stronger relationships with those involved. Of course, if this hike is a great time as well, I’m sure Randy will try to convince me to do an overnight hike next year.